Energy access: UNDP, Sahara target 10 million households

The United Nations Development Programme and the Sahara Group have unveiled the Africa Renewable Energy Forum to boost access to sustainable energy for 10 million households in Africa through alternative energy initiatives and interventions.

It was learnt that both organisations inaugurated the energy forum at the ongoing 74th UN General Assembly in New York.

A statement from Sahara Group said the Africa Renewable Energy Forum was expected to bolster ongoing partnership between the UNDP and the Sahara Group with the aim to create access to clean and affordable energy in Africa.

It said the forum would serve as a platform for policy discussions, multi-stakeholder collaboration and funding towards implementation of tailored renewable energy solutions across the continent.

“Ultimately, the platform will galvanise the political momentum needed to record significant progress through strong partnerships, effective regulation and mutual accountability,” the group stated.

It said the event had senior officials from both organisations in attendance including, Ahunna Eziakonwa, Regional Director and Assistant Secretary General for UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa; Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina; Director, Governance and Sustainability, Sahara Group; Bethel Obioma, Head Corporate Communications, Sahara Group, Pearl Uzokwe; and Private Sector Engagement Specialist, Sahara Foundation, Babatomiwa Adesida.

According to the statement, Africa has the highest percentage of untapped hydropower potential in the world, with only 11 per cent utilisation capacity.

It stated that while the global electrification rate reached 89 per cent in 2018 and 153 million people gained access to electricity, the biggest challenge remained the most remote areas globally and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, where estimated 573 million people were not connected to grid power.

Eziakonwa stated that with over 600 million Africans having no access to electricity, the continent urgently needed to embrace renewable energy sources to sustainably connect the poorest and hardest to reach households.

He said, “Access to energy will enhance the cause of poverty alleviation and yield huge benefits for education, healthcare, production and socio-economic development.

“The UNDP-Sahara partnership is extremely crucial as it will provide a model for engaging a wide range of stakeholders to address the continent’s energy challenge in line with the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) framework.”

On his part, Adesina said the initiative had the potential to create over one million jobs in Africa as the continent continues its march towards achieving the 2030 SDG agenda.

He said, “Renewable energy is still in its infancy as far as Africa is concerned. We need unrelenting awareness initiatives to inspire a mindset shift to renewable energy in Africa with the various governments, private sector and development agencies leading the charge.

“At Sahara Group, we believe that interventions like the UNDP-Sahara partnership will enhance productivity and shared prosperity in Africa.”

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